Gremlins & Rust
November 3rd had Team Fox at Waikaraka for our first meeting of the season.
Weather was dodgy to say the least and it rained on and off right up to about 6:30. On any normal night the pin would have been pulled early but this was fireworks night and the promotion was keen to see it go ahead. A surprisingly large crowd fronted in spite of the cold, windy and wet conditions.
Looking around the pits pre meeting we were surprised by the lack of cars in all grades and with only 4 real classes in attendance we wondered how they would pad the meeting out to last any longer that 9pm! This was answered when the jalopies bought in the for ramp derby were given a couple of “shakedown runs” prior to their event at the end of the night. Hardly scintillating stuff for the true speedway fan but sufficient on a night where, if we are being honest, racing takes a backseat to the fireworks novelty.
7 mods were in attendance: 6a, 11a, 18r, 19a, 36a, 64a and 105a. It was a pleasant surprise to have BJ and Scotty on hand as they are both competitive in the class and without these guys to keep Foxy honest the racing can get pretty boring.
First night out can give you little issues and this night was no different for us. Firstly the starter motor decided to start playing up just as we were trying to head out for race 1. The issue was intermittent and luckily we were able to get going eventually before each race. The other issue we had was more serious and we didn’t identify the problem until the feature.
Race 1 had us leaving from grid 6. Only car behind us was Scotty in the 19a car and as he started in the same position all night we must assume he requested to leave from the rear all night. 18r and 105a formed up on the front row and the pace they set was brain numbingly slow. Foxy ended up being the only one watching the lights and as soon as they went green he simply pulled out to the wall from his grid 6 start and passed the two guys in front of him on the outside to hit the lead going into the first turn. Race over. Although making no race of it, we felt watching that the car lacked its normal edge and seemed a bit flat. It sounded ok when it came past us but it looked to be struggling. We initially put this down to a combination of missing the setup, given the track is different to last year, and hitting the odd wet patch on the track due to the amount of rain. When Foxy came in we set about making the changes we thought we needed to make to get the car better, looking at the lap times it was obvious we were not tracking around as good as what we should. Foxy normally skids around Waikaraka in the 15sec bracket and last year was down in the 14sec range but race 1 our quickest lap was only a 15.63. This was slow but we put this down to not quite having the car right and given it is a new surface we haven’t yet worked out what is and isn’t a good time around the circuit.
With the changes made to the setup out we went for heat 2. This time we would be starting from grid 5 so pulling a similar move to race 1 was not going to be an option given we had an inside starting position. The same two guys were off the front and their speed wasn’t any better than heat 1. Crumpy in 36a shot out to an early lead but it wasn’t long until BJ in 6a and Foxy moved past him. Foxy spent the rest of the race running behind BJ without really ever threatening to pass him. The car looked real ordinary in this one with Foxy losing a heap of time through turns 1 & 2. Even after the changes we made the car still just looked slow. Foxy did set the fastest time but it was hardly anything to write home about being a real slow 15.95.
Next up was the feature and we made drastic changes to the car to try and find some car speed. There is no doubt that the changes were the right ones and car handled a lot better. Foxy left from grid 5 again and this time he had to chase down Grant Harris in the 64a machine. Before Foxy caught him, Grant had a mechanical issue that resulted in him backing the car into the wall in turn 3 so Foxy inherited the lead. It was during these caution laps that Foxy noticed the issue that had obviously been there all night. The car had very little fuel pressure. Under acceleration the car should have about 12 lbs of fuel pressure but when Foxy was standing on the gas it was dropping to 3 lbs! We were lucky that the engine was getting just enough fuel so not to any damage to the engine by leaning it out too far but after talking to Tony Marsh on Sunday we realised that the performance loss from the engine would have been pretty significant all night running this level of pressure. It definitely explained the apparent lack of punch. Anyway, once Foxy realised the problem he managed the restart by working out how much throttle gave him the best fuel pressure and ran the rest of the race by only using that much throttle. A bit of a juggling act but he kept an eye on the engine temperature and, although it got slightly hotter than we normally run, it wasn’t bad enough to force him off so he just cruised around and came home comfortably in front. Fastest lap a 15.44.
Our misfortune on Saturday becomes Waikaraka fortune with us now having to run on November 17th when we initially were going to sit it out. We will fix the starter motor and make the changes we need to make to fix the fuel pressure issue (we believe we know what is causing it). We will need to run on the 17th to make sure we have it sorted before heading into the championship meeting at Rotorua on the 24th November and Baypark on December 15th.
See ya at the Park.